It is impossible to be in the workplace now and not hear the term mental health. Everyone is thinking about it, protecting it, and dissecting it.
We can all list some of the top threats to our mental health: COVID, economy, politics, international instability, changing workplace expectations, and a larger workload in less time. But there is a silent threat to our mental health—that we rarely discuss.
Unresolved conflict sits in the back of your brain like a radio station that isn’t tuned in all of the way. It adds a bit of static to everyday interactions. Instead of fully trusting what someone has, or having complete confidence and hope, there is a bit of static in your thoughts. It is the extra bit of anxiety your brain is holding from that unresolved conflict.
When life becomes stressful, we naturally shy away from things that are hard. “I need time to myself,” “I need to rest,” “I have to take care of myself and I just can’t deal with you and your drama right now.” But the problem is that things don’t usually get better if we don’t face them.
Unresolved conflict with a coworker, a supervisor, an employee, or your family continues to weigh on your brain. And the more it weighs on your brain, the more short-term and long-term damage you experience to your mental health.
• Avoid anything uncomfortable
• Headache, digestion, and focusing problems
• Distrust those around you
• Begin to withdraw from coworkers, then family and friends
• Avoid anything new
• Lose hope
As we can see, deteriorating mental health is a breeding ground for conflict. Ever been around someone who’s constantly irritable? High anxiety? Unwilling to listen to your new project ideas? Avoids team collaboration? Can you see how these mental health concerns cause more conflict, which in turn cause more anxiety?
Conflict affects mental health which affects conflict. It can be a vicious circle. And as someone loses trust and motivation, they have likely lost their willingness to resolve the conflict on their own. This is the time to ask for help. HR, management, ombuds, or an external coach or neutral can help you resolve the underlying conflict. Once that bothersome static has been removed, you’ll find you can think clearly and begin to make healthier decisions.
Facing conflict can be uncomfortable, which is why so many of us avoid it. But life is simply too short to let that conflict have power over you. It’s your life after all. Knock those conflicts out of the way and take charge of your mental health.